Nashville Tennessee Computer Forensics

I have recently gotten some questions about what computer forensics work I have been doing in Tennessee, and to contrast it to Florida.  By and large, computer forensics is computer forensics but there does seem to be some different emphasis on the work areas.

I have had a lot of healthcare related work in Tennessee.  This has ranged from the individual doctor’s practice to large clinics.  The work has ranged from data breaches, employee’s stealing data, to data recovery work.   The cases generally haven’t been huge investigations, as in find the unknown bad act.  In interviews, I have generally been able to narrow things down to “X” act happened between these date and times on the specified computer(s).

I have made progress on making contacts with attorneys in Tennessee and Kentucky.  I have been retained in few child pornography cases as an expert witness.  So far, many of the issues in the cases are similar to those I saw in Florida and Virginia.  In Kentucky especially, they seem to be very backed-up on their forensic exams.

I had an investigation in Arkansas where an “ethical hacker” performed some work without having a written contract in place giving him permission.  The events that followed created some confusion and concern for a possible data breach.

Last week, I was at the Tennessee Bar Association’s office in Nashville for a live continuing education presentation.  This presentation was titled “Computer Forensics in a Mobile World.”  This presentation was streamed live throughout the state for attorneys to attend for CEU credit.  They also will be able to view the presentation on-demand for CEUs over the next year.

I hope to do some presentations at the Lebanon, TN chamber of commerce over the rest of the year. I will cover topics that will be of interest to small business owners.  The presentations will probably focus on firewalls, storage, HIPAA, and general security topics.  On the HIPAA/ HITECH act presentation I am hoping to have an attorney participate.

I am also going to do one on utilizing mobile device analysis in traffic accident investigations.  These seems to be a rapidly growing area of interest in litigation.  Not to mention a very real problem…as we have all seen first hand.  It will also serve to gauge interest locally in this area.

New WordPress Based LMS

There is a new Learning Management System (LMS) coming out. It is named LearnDash. (http://www.learndash.com) It will be a plugin for the popular WordPress content management system (CMS). There is certainly room in this area for growth. We use Moodle as the primary LMS on http://www.allceus.com right now. Moodle is great, but honestly it is a bit much to manage for a small business wanting to provide online training. Really, if you don’t have your own Moodle Admin on staff… you are forced to pay for a hosted Moodle. This can quickly get really costly. Luckily for us, I am able to manage our Moodle on our own dedicated server.

I haven’t gotten my hands on a Beta of the LearnDash software yet, but I am looking forward to doing a further review. It appears though that they are incorporating the needed features.

X-Ways Forensics Training Course Review

I just completed a week of training with X-Ways in Washington, DC.   The instructor was the CEO of the company and principal software designer Stefan Fleischmann.  This class is taught all over the world, generally only a couple times a year in the United States.

The class is broken up into two segments, which you can purchase seperately.  The first three days is disigned specifically to teach the student how to use X-Ways Forensics.  The last two days is a file systems course.  Since the segments are very different, I will cover them individually.

X-Ways Forensics Course:

If you have read my previous blogs you know I was already a fan of X-Ways Forensics prior to attending the course.  I knew though that there had to be functionality I was missing out on having not attended the training.  I was right!  lol   I of course had learned a lot of the features through use and reading the manual.  There were areas that I had not really explored that I will probably use in every investigation. 

All students are provided with printed training material, digital copy of training material, a computer, and a copy of X-Ways to use during the course.

The class starts out with an overall tour of the user interface and how to navigate in X-Ways Forensics.  Mr. Fleischmann regularly demonstrates that there is multiple ways to do almost everything in X-Ways.  I gained an appreciation for the phrase: How many ways are there to  _______? “X-Ways”  You have to use the “X” to denote the number of ways to do a task because you can’t easily count them all! That is a bit of joke, but whether you prefer context menus, main menus, or keyboard shortcuts there is probably the choice of doing it your preferred way in X-Ways Forensics.  Additionally, along with all those normal ways there are often sorta hidden short-cuts built in to make common tasks faster.  Once you see theses, there location makes great sense.   But they are one on the kinda of things that are hard to pick up on in a manual, but easy to learn when you see someone do it.

While teaching, Mr. Fleischmann shows students through the tasks that he is performing.  After learning a series of features, Mr. Fleischmann has very well planned out exercises that the students execute on their own.  These are very good at reinforcing what you just learned.  After giving you time to practice, Mr. Fleischmann then leads you through the ideal solution to the exercise.

Mr. Fleischmann starts off each day of class with a review of what was learned the day before.  This is another great adult learning teaching method that reinforces learning. 

There were a wide variety of computer examiners in the course.  Everything from private to the biggest name federal LE agencies.  I did not hear one examiner that was not impressed with the software, Mr. Fleischmann, or the training.

File Systems:

The last two days of the five day course, are a class on file systems.  These two days are very fast paced.  If you don’t come into the class with some knowledge of file systems it is probably to fast to comprehend a lot.  That said, if you come in with some knowledge;  you will leave with a lot more.  Mr. Fleischmann has an amazing knowledge of file systems.  He moves through the MFT in NTFS very fluidly.  He explains all the ends and out.  I don’t mean the usual, “this is a journaling file system that maintain individual entries of each file and their location..”  Mr. Fleishman dives into the actual binary code in example after example, breaking down file entries.   Mr. Fleishman also breaks down and explains other important system files like the $logfile.  I have already used information in this portion of the class to find evidence in a couple cases I would have otherwise missed.

Mr. Fleischmann is nothing short of amazing as an instructor.  He is extremely punctual and efficient throughout the class.  There is not a moment of the course that is not well organized.  He is able to intelligently answer almost any computer question that comes up, no matter how trivial it may be. The course is definitely fast paced, though.  Get your rest, because you will need all your focus. 

This was certainly one of the best computer courses I have had the opportunity to attend.  I would highly recommend it to any computer examiner or data recovery technician!

Engineering PDH and continuing education site is up!

Well, for people who know me personally or watch our business; you know my family has been working on getting our engineering continuing education site up. 

 Well, we have been approved by the Florida Board of engineering to provide professional development hours (PDH) to engineers.  Our approval also includes Florida Laws and Rules course.  (For anyone not familar this is all continuing education engineers have to take to keep their license.)

We have entered the market at 99 dollars for unlimited PDH.  For anyone not familar…that is revolutionary for engineering pdh.  They are commonly priced far higher.  We really hope to bring a good value to engineer’s in state all over the country.

Our promotional website in engineeringceus.com for anyone who is interested.

Online Counseling and Mental Health Education (The Education is FREE too!)

I occasionally have someone find my site; looking for my wife for online counseling.  Here is a synopsis of what she and her site are about.

Dr-Is-In was created to provide online counseling to people in the convenience of their own homes. E-therapy or online counseling is not appropriate for everyone. Due to the fact that your e-therapist is unable to see you and do an adequate mental status exam, it is only ethical to do online counseling with people who are experiencing mild or moderate depression, anxiety, grief or addictions. Many people claim to be online therapists, but I encourage you to check their credentials to make sure they are licensed in their state or certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors or a similar counseling organization. Online counseling comes in many different forms as well: email, individual chat and group chat and asynchronous forums. Many people feel more comfortable talking openly in e-therapy than they do in traditional counseling. It is also cheaper–No travel expenses, no babysitter and your online counselor can offer services for less per hour because their overhead is significantly less. Online counseling with an licensed/certified professional is a medical expense and is therefore tax-deductible.

I have been providing online counseling and education online, face-to-face and via telephone for over a decade. During which time I have found that, although every patient is a bit different, there are certain basic principles that remain the same. . .
People are not going to be compliant with treatment (and won’t get better) if you use an approach that does not match their personality.

A small change in your way of thinking, way of feeling, social interactions, environment, physical activities and/or eating and sleeping habits will have big effects to help you get on your way. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were your problems. Change will be gradual, but Hope goes a long way.

You can do one or two things really well or do a lot of things half-way. What we are after is quality change, not quantity. Work with your e-therapist to identify one or two interventions at a time. You will probably see that a lot of things change anyway. For example, when people start making a conscious effort not to hold on to anger and resentment, they usually find that they physically feel better, have more energy and start sleeping better which helps them have more patience, improved relationships (and support) and reduced anxiety and depression.

People choose the best/most rewarding course of action they can based on the tools they have at any point in time. This is the hardest part for most people to wrap their minds around, but it is the most basic principle of behavior modification. Even if, on the surface, the behavior seems counterproductive and hurtful, there are benefits. Until you identify those benefits and find other ways of reaping the same rewards, you will not change.

Most people find during their online counseling sessions that depression, anxiety, anger etc. revolves around six basic fears: loss of control, the unknown, rejection, isolation, failure (or success) and death. We do whatever we can to avoid these feelings and when we cannot avoid them, sometimes they consume us. Although you may not like to talk about feelings, we will talk about “triggers” for your problem and tools to deal with or eliminate them.

People see all the reasons why they “should” change, but often fail to take into account all the reasons they do not want to change. It goes back to that reward. What is the benefit of this behavior or feeling? What is it protecting me from or getting for me? If you try to take away that behavior and replace it with something that does not meet the same need with the same intensity, you will FAIL! It is kind of like replacing chocolate with celery when you go on a diet. It just doesn’t quite getcha there.

Please let me know about topics you would like to see added. I will respond to questions about e-therapy, mental health, parenting and wellness as quickly as possible. You are free to ask questions, but remember, the forums are not therapy and they are public. Be smart about protecting your identity etc. Additionally, I offer free online counseling whenever I am online. Visit our services page for more information.

All that being said, I look forward to a very productive relationship.
~Dr. Snipes

Phone: (615) 208-6565 1633 W. Main St, Suite 902, Lebanon, TN